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Kitchen Adventures: When it's 'one of those days,' quick and easy does the trick

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By Becca Owsley

Sometimes a cook likes to experiment with complicated things in the kitchen. Other times you have worked a long day and come home tired and hungry, looking to make something simple yet great tasting.

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This week’s adventure offers just that type of recipe, Easy Mexican Casserole.

A friend found this recipe on Facebook and asked me to give it a try. The prep was simple and the taste was great.

When shopping for supplies, finding ranch-style beans was a head scratcher. I was looking for a type of bean labeled ranch style. After searching the bean aisle for several minutes, I discovered Ranch Style is a brand name. It has beans in a thick sauce that must be unique to the brand.

A few days later, after feeling silly at the grocery store for overlooking the beans that were staring me in the face, I came home from a busy workday to prepare this Mexican casserole and find out if it truly was easy.

After browning the beef, mix other ingredients and simmer then layer crushed tortilla chips, beef mixture and cheese twice and it’s ready to bake.

For this recipe, I used grocery store brand tomatoes instead of the name brand and it worked just fine. With this type of diced tomato, you get some added spices in whatever flavor or temperature you choose.

With the tomatoes and taco seasoning, you get to decide how spicy you want to make the dish. I used mild but medium or hot will kick it up a notch.

After baking, add salsa to the top of the dish. If you are serving it immediately, go ahead and top with sour cream or offer it separately to those who want to embellish their individual servings.

There are a variety of ways to experiment with the dish. You can substitute beef for chicken, use a blend of cheeses instead of just cheddar, or add your favorite pepper. Sometimes you can  find Mexican-blend canned corn to include. Black beans may be used instead of Ranch Style beans.

Instead of tortillas, Fritos can be used for a corn chip taste.

Recipes like this not only are easy, they can be played with. You can add your own twists and changes to fit your individual taste palate.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Easy Mexican Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can Ranch Style beans
1 10-12 ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
sour cream and salsa for serving

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, soup and water. Simmer over medium-low heat until everything is well combined and heated through.

Grease a 9 by 13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of crushed tortilla chips, followed by a layer of the meat and bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and salsa.

Recipe found on Facebook, unknown source